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WCPI Week 5 – Werit’s Blog (A discussion on a 3rd faction in WAR)

March 29, 2009

I enjoy a good argument. Not the stupid, illogical, ranting arguments some people have, but the thought-provoking, viewed from all angles type that got me hooked on Philosophy in college. Ended up with a minor in it on accident, didn’t know I had taken that many classes. They were so much fun, I didn’t really treat them like work. :p

What’s my point? Well, I dropped by Werit’s blog because it was pointed out that he had a post on adding a 3rd faction. This is a topic that seems to be going round-and-round in the community and I wanted to see what a fellow WCPI blogger’s take on it was. Now, I like stopping by Werit’s on occasion because he blogs about all kinds of things gaming-related and not just WAR (Star Wars Pinball anyone? booya!) However, this post got me into that old debating-with-my-professor mode that used to make him chuckle and the rest of the class put their pencils down, cuz this was gonna take a while.

I play WAR (duh), but I never played DAoC. Prior to WAR, I played Pirates of the Burning Sea. I’m an avid pirate-history fan having grown up on a sailboat (literally, first 9 years of my life), so that game was my Holy Grail….at first. I’m not going to get into the wonderful/horrible parts of PotBS, I’m just going to discuss how their 4-way NvN worked. (Nation vs Nation as opposed to Realm vs Realm)

There were four “Nations” : British, French, Spanish and Pirate. The three true Nations behaved in the same manner as far as NvN went, they had the same opportunities and goals in regards to the end-game (Controlling the Caribbean) and thus were fairly equal overall in my opinion. (This equates to the current Destruction/Order end-game goals.) The Pirate Nation, however, had different rules for victory but with the same end-goal and were admittedly functioning as merely a “timer” for control of the Caribbean.

In WAR, people say they want a third faction to “balance things out” when one side gets too strong. I’ll be honest, it didn’t work that way in PotBS. If one Nation was strong, it tended to have at least one of the other Nations in its back pocket, whether openly or hidden, leaving the two remaining Nations to get pummeled. On rare occasions, the Nation in the lead would be equally hated by the other three and they would all work together to basically prevent that Nation from being able to do anything at all. Sadly, sometimes three Nations just got together and did this anyway, even if the fourth Nation wasn’t a threat.

This is the problem with having multiple factions. No one, not even the game designer, can control what the people in the third faction will do. Sometimes they might help topple an oppressor, but most likely, they’re going to jump on that bandwagon and be the pocket-faction as it were. Because let’s be honest, if the masses of gamers truly cared about balance and toppling the stronger opponent, a two-faction system would self-regulate on its own.

The problem with WAR’s imbalance is the same problem the Pirate Nation had. There’s no real game-driven motivation to overcome the odds and prevail against the stronger opponent. The game designers left that in the hands of people’s “honor’ and “moral code” and “desire to win as the underdog” and lots of other intrinsic rewards that gamers over the past decade have been trained by previous games to ignore. Yes, in a perfect world, people would do what they do in games for the intrinsic rewards and not the extrinsic, game-provided ones. But just like the real world, game worlds are far from perfect.

I’ll be honest, if PotBS had stopped and given Pirates a valid end-game with goals that were valid, both extrinsically and intrinsically, then I’d have never left it. I loved being a Pirate. Heck, even without a valid end-game, myself and my guild rallied the entire Pirate Nation to dominance on our server….until servers got merged. Gotta love it. But without true in-game motivation to drive people to the end-game and drive them to balance it, RvR/NvN games will always be imbalanced, no matter how many factions you try to add to make it work.

So while it’s fun to theorize how a third faction might work, personally, I’d rather see people theorizing on what might make the two factions we have work. Discuss ways to motivate underdogs via in-game mechanics. Discuss ways to discourage the stronger side from constantly pummeling the weaker. Solutions are out there, we just need to sit down and actually focus our efforts on what the game currently “IS” instead of always talking about what will probably never be.

But hey, that’s just this Dwarf Pirate’s opinion. (OMG, I would SO love Dwarf Pirates as a playable class…crap, nevermind.)

~Gaar

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. March 30, 2009 7:16 am

    This blog’s great!! Thanks :).

  2. CKaz permalink
    April 7, 2009 6:33 am

    Agreed, some kind of reward and/or buff/bolster wouldnt be a bad thing done right, and [only] where needed. I think 4 factions would spread it out a bit much, but I played such a model too – Everquest Team Server. Bit of a shoe-horn system one year in, but I enjoyed it and left my bluebie server permanently the day it came out.

    There, an incredible amount went with the dark side, so it was the 3 other teams vs them, and it had a pretty good balance. Until cross-teamers ruined the game late in the cycle, anyways – the game had spread out too much with expansions, and too many loot-centric players.

    Had I not inevitably and utterly burnt out on EQ I’m sure I would have played DaoC and loved it, alas I took a break and then tried some other offerings (Anarchy Online for a new theme, Guild Wars with good depth and no monthly) before re-entering with WoW and WAR later on.

    [In fact I’m the anonymous one on the aforementioned blog asking if it’s still out there, and then talking about 3team population suggests]

  3. CKaz permalink
    April 7, 2009 6:38 am

    oops sorry diff blog than above, lots of people talking 3side :}
    I referred to another blog warhammeralliance.com, link below –
    http://mmmmmgud.blogspot.com/2009/04/what-if-we-had-three-sides.html

  4. April 10, 2009 6:24 am

    Bottom line for me (and I would think/hope, Mythic) is this: There are 2 factions and due to mythic/GW choosing 2 instead of the (current) potential 6. I can only think that there is no way GW will let their IP be stretched and twisted further to create a 3rd faction.

    Also as much as people can claim Skaven and Undead could fit the bill it would still be a (big) departure from GW lore to twist them to work as a 3rd faction.

    I’m not going to give a lesson on GW lore here anyone that’s played the games (WHFB, WHFRPG, Advanced Hero Quest etc) aught to agree with this. So far most of the folk that appear to be calling for a 3rd faction are also the same folk that wanted female slayers…that’s not to suggest their opinion is worthless its just to point out they are wrong. WRONG!

    • April 10, 2009 6:28 am

      Oh and um here…

      Picture of Long Drongs Slayer Pirates from GW’s site. Just for you!

    • gaarawarr permalink
      April 10, 2009 6:48 am

      I’m tellin ya, hybrid class. Pistol and cutlass/boarding axe. Give them some crowd control and medium armor and let them wreak havoc. They don’t need to do tons of damage, just have them be a utility class that strikes fear in the hearts of their enemies with the chaos they cause. hehe

  5. Steeldragoon permalink
    April 28, 2009 7:12 pm

    A major difference 4 factions makes over 3 factions. In Daoc, the 3rd faction would normally side with the lesser of the two factions at the time. Why? Because they usually found if they help out the stronger faction, they lose anyway, if they help out the lesser of the two factions, then they at least have a chance. With 4 factions, you don’t have the same logic and someone will stick with the greater anyway. Now they don’t alway help out the lesser side, but that’s how it works 75% of the time so it still in my view balances it out.

    My argument is 2 is too few, 3 is perfect, and any more factions actually makes it worse than if you had only 2.

    It’s too bad you never gave DAOC a chance. I think you would be agree completely.

    • gaarawarr permalink
      April 28, 2009 11:37 pm

      Well, I still don’t think it would work in today’s age of MMOs, but that’s just from my experience. I think this post on WHA sums up one of the main issues nowadays. Ultimately, it’s up to the game designers to make balance desirable and to date, no one has done that.

    • Steeldragoon permalink
      April 30, 2009 4:05 am

      I agree with that post you linked to almost 100%. As for the 3rd faction not working in today’s MMO’s? I honestly think DAOC would still be popular if they had advertised it. So many people I’ve talked to said they have never heard of it. When told of the idea of a 3rd faction, they were like, awesome, that would definitely make it better and different than WOW. Too bad no one plays DAOC any more they would say.

      My point is, they had a working system with DAOC. A lot of bloggers look at WAR without ever having known DAOC and say something along the lines of how developers have a long way to go to make this RvR system work. The sad part is, they don’t have that far at all to go. DAOC was a working system as long as the population is there (because the real fatal flaw of any RvR game is the population since if that disappears how do you have any RvR at all?). The RvR in DAOC was never boring. The Darkfalls, Relic system, and 3rd faction was a nice formula that simply worked.

      New additions to WAR that like the PQ system, spike up the PvE a bit compared to DAOC. And so, I’m not saying that WAR needed to be a DAOC clone. But other than the handful of innovating they did, it really is closely related to DAOC more than any mmo. If they had gone that extra step to mimic the mechanics a bit more, I feel as though the complains would be 1/100th of what they are now. That’s how strongly I feel that DAOCs mechanics were pretty dang close to perfect (other than the lack of players in the past year which officially killed it in my eyes). There were not many strong complaints in DAOC … just more of a … I wish there were more people playing…

      Also, they clustered a lot of servers in DAOC. In a 400 person battle, there was very little lag compared to WAR. So beefing up hardware should be added to the blog. Benefit comparison to the money spent on hardware should be no contest for Mythic yet I still don’t see them spending the money on it. I know they can cluster servers because they did it in DAOC. Just wondering if they only reason why they haven’t done it yet is because of EA not giving them enough support (either in development, money, or giving hardware to them)…

    • gaarawarr permalink
      April 30, 2009 4:31 am

      Well, without more information from Mythic (which we’ll never get), it’s all speculation.

      As for older games that people would love to still play if they had bigger populations, I’d be back to the old Star Wars Galaxies (pre-NGE) if it ever happened and had a population in it. The fact that it had no “levels” to characters but was made up of skill sets and gear and almost infinite choices still put it at the top of my MMO list as far as most fun overall. While it had PvP, it would have been insanely better with something akin to RvR.

      As players, we can wish all we want about what we want for games or what we think could make them better, unfortunately, we have no direct control over that. The “I pay $15 a month” argument really holds no water. That’s 25 cents a day. Do you really have any say over anything you pay 25 cents a day for? Didn’t think so. MMOs are like any other game. You buy it, you try it out, if it’s not for you, you stop playing. There’s nothing wrong with that, but some people keep playing long after it’s no fun for them and end up ruining things for others in the end.

      Devs have a hard job sifting the realistic feedback from the unrealistic when it comes to MMOs. Ultimately, and I’ve said this before and still stand by it, the game that has a solid vision and sticks to it regardless of forum feedback will ultimately end up a stronger game in the end. They might shed some players along the way, but flip-flopping developers shed more players than anything else in my opinion.

    • Steeldragoon permalink
      April 30, 2009 3:52 pm

      I’ve never used the $15 a month argument myself. I just like observing and making comments … wishing.

      As for their vision making the game stronger down the line, I’m sure as they add more features from DAOC, it will get better. As for other visions that they might add newly to mmo’s in the future or taken from other mmo’s not daoc, then I can only hope you are right.

      I want to see WAR continue to hold a population of people who enjoy to play it. Hopefully it’ll last 6 years like DAOC did.

    • gaarawarr permalink
      April 30, 2009 10:45 pm

      Didn’t say you used that argument, but it seems to be a lot of people’s mentality about MMOs.

    • Steeldragoon permalink
      May 1, 2009 4:00 am

      Btw, they have free trails for DAOC. (it’s still running, just not really populated)

      If you have the time and think it worth while, you should download and install it (they have a link on the WAR herald to DAOC) and just take a look around. It may give you some more ideas to blog about. 🙂

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